President Raul Castro confirmed on Cuban state media Friday that his brother, Fidel Castro, has died at the age of 90.
The revolutionary leader, Castro led the country as a one-party communist state and first governed the Republic of Cuba as prime minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as president from 1976 to 2008, after helping to overthrow the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1952.
Under his rule, relations between Cuba and the United States seized during the Cold War as Cuba maintained friendly ties with the communist Soviet Union.
Antagonism came to a head in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis when Castro allowed the Soviets to place nuclear warheads on the Caribbean island.
His supporters lauded him for creating the first communist nation in the western hemisphere and carrying the party into the 21st century, while his detractors have targeted him for suppressing opposition and sending many citizens into political prisons and labour camps.
His policies also caused hundreds of thousands of wealthy and middle-class Cubans to flee for the shores of the United States, with many settling in Florida.
After almost 50 years in office, Castro handed power to his brother Raul in 2008.
In April, he gave a rare speech to the Communist Party, saying he would die soon.
“I’ll be 90 years old soon,” Castro said in his most extensive public appearance in years. “Soon I’ll be like all the others. The time will come for all of us, but the ideas of the Cuban Communists will remain as proof on this planet that if they are worked at with fervor and dignity, they can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need, and we need to fight without a truce to obtain them.”